Texas Spice, the Subject of This Week's Review, Contains Too Little Texas and Too Little Spice

Categories: Whimsy

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The words Texas and spice invoke plenty of connotations food-wise -- beef, heat, chili and smoke all come to mind. There are lots of ways to dice the terms, but if you say Texas Spice, it's likely to bring to mind big and bold flavors.

Farm-to-table and locavorism, meanwhile, aren't typically movements that come to mind when picturing Texas cooking. Despite respectable efforts at a handful of Dallas restaurants, most places pay lip service to these causes, sourcing one or two ingredients while ignoring the bulk of their menu.

Texas Spice, the signature restaurant of the new Omni Hotel (and the subject of this week's review), claims to sourcing roughly 90 percent of its food from within small radius, and it makes an admirable effort. But gulf-raised red fish and cattle raised in Oklahoma (even if it's finished in-state) push this boundary out significantly.

And then there's the execution.

As much as I want to praise restaurants that embrace sustainable practices, I think it's even more important for places like this to really nail execution. Texas Spice comes up short across the board, with dishes that fail bring enough Texas or enough spice or enough creativity. They don't bring enough anything, really, except calories. Everything's bigger. Ugh.

Maybe they're still getting their footing. As we move into spring and summer, chef Cory Garrison will have a lot more ingredients to play with. Plans to pickle and jar excess produce mean that next winter's menu could be significantly different from this winter's, too.

Time will tell. But for now, even if I'm checking in at the Omni, I'm checking out of its signature restaurant.

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My Voice Nation Help

I don't disagree totally but I think things weren't quite as bad as you say. Portions were big and prices weren't. Amazingly quiet for a big downtown restaurant. It has high ceilings and nice spacing of the tables. That alone is an attraction. Wines by the glass were good to excellent and also not expensive. I thought that all of the dishes ordered were interesting ideas that used excellent ingredients but resulted in muted flavors. We agree on that part. But there it was, a big shaker of their own 'Texas Spice" right in the middle of the table. We used it. So the chicken and dumplings - nice gravy but too little, fat dumplings - just ok, half chicken partially deboned was nicely done. Chicken fried ribeye was a surprise - nice cut of beef, lean, tender and tasty. Problem was the crust was a little greasy which likely comes from having to cook the thick cut of beef through. Very good mashed potatoes. Also huge green salads with fresh, all green lettuce that needed a bit more dressing. So overall, I'm saying nice ingredients, decent ideas about each dish that all needed a bit more accent (gravy, dressing, spice). My one real complaint was the very very slow kitchen. 

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

Are you commenting on the review or this blog post (or both).  I think we're mostly on the same page? I had some pleasant meals there and agree that pricing is fair considering the opulent digs. I just didn't find the overall experience compelling. This is one negative review I think that is very ripe for a revisit. Their farm to table model could shine more brightly in spring.

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